Dancing with divinity

Local choreographers Odelya Kuperberg and Israel Aloni investigate belief through the body in their new joint work "Godlike."

ODELYA KUPERBERG and Israel Aloni’s ‘Godlike.’ (photo credit: ELLA WALDMAN)
ODELYA KUPERBERG and Israel Aloni’s ‘Godlike.’
(photo credit: ELLA WALDMAN)
Dancing with divinity Local choreographers Odelya Kuperberg and Israel Aloni investigate belief through the body in their new joint work ‘Godlike’ • By ORI J. LENKINSKI For millions of people around the world, the idea of being part of something bigger than themselves provides extreme comfort. Whether they are worshiping in a temple in Bhutan, bracing themselves against the Western Wall or attending midnight mass in Savannah, Georgia, religion often provides a connective thread through what feels like a random and disorderly world. And while these examples involve belief in a higher power, religious and spiritual practices exceed the scope of theism.
For choreographers Odelya Kuperberg and Israel Aloni, who will present their new joint evening Godlike tonight and for the coming days, participating in the dance world is very much a religious endeavor. The creative process spanned several months, countries, nationalities and periods. The gel holding it all together was a desire to investigate belief through the body.
“Every religion has its own rituals and beliefs, dress code, its own approach to life and death and its own internal dialogue.
Dance, in my eyes, is very religious. It can only be presented in certain ways. As dance artists, we wear very specific clothes; we enter a space in a very particular way. You can always tell when someone is a dancer, even when they stop dancing. You can take the person out of dance but you can’t take the dance out of the person,” laughs Kuperberg over coffee at Café Landwer on Dizengof Street. “I see myself as a very religious person.”
“There is a way in which dancers connect with one another instantly, an intimacy.
You can go into a dance studio anywhere in the world and you’re with family,” adds Aloni. “I imagine it’s the same as going into a church.”
Kuperberg and Aloni took a moment to collect their thoughts while their cast of five warmed up in the dance studio upstairs.
Kuperberg has based herself in Tel Aviv, occupying the fringe realms consistently.
Aloni relocated from Israel to Sweden years ago to dance with Goteborg Ballet.
He established his own troupe in Sweden, however he admits to working mostly on the road. “I spend about six to eight weeks a year in Goteborg, the rest is touring,” he says. Godlike is a co-production between Aloni’s Swedish company and Kuperberg’s Israeli base.
The two have worked together in the past, however not in this way. Aloni returned to Israel to participate as a dancer in Forbidden Fruit by Kuperberg. During that process, the two artists recognized potential for a more involved collaboration. Having kicked the idea around for more than a year, Kuperberg and Aloni finally set the wheels in motion last year.
“It was a very layered process,” explains Aloni. “I worked with two dancers and an apprentice in Sweden. Odelya worked with three dancers here in Israel. Eventually, we got everyone together.”
The evening will consist of two works, which share dancers. The cast is comprised of four foreigners: Laerke Ilkjaer Appelon from Denmark, Lukas Przytarski from Poland, Australian Scotty Ewen and Italian Rachele Rapisardi, and Israeli Meitar Basson. The dancers were assembled over time, handpicked by Kuperberg and Aloni during their various engagements in Israel and abroad.
And though they had not shared studio space or dancers, Kuperberg and Aloni discovered that there was a host of shared ideas between their creations. In Kuperberg’s section, dancers Przytarski, Appelon and Basson explore the negative spaces of one another’s bodies. “I’m flying, I can fly,” they call out as they lift and swing one another through the space. The sense of flying returns in Aloni’s work as dancers Rapisardi and Ewen support one another, reaching great heights. Community, support, blind faith and higher powers are all notions evoked in the two works. Kuperberg and Aloni manage to bring out the strengths of each dancer, to highlight their personalities and ability to express themselves.
“We are very lucky to have these dancers.
They are, in my opinion, it. The creation is made by the willingness of the dancers to challenge themselves in the here and now. They get on stage and channel themselves into the work. I feel that I guide them and then they take it to their own place and that is incredible.
The work will be a combination of the dancers’ intention and the audience being present to view it,” Aloni says.
Godlike will run at Neve Schechter tonight and March 1 at 9 p.m. (www.neve-schechter.
org.il) and at the Khan Theater on March 2 and 3 at 9 p.m. (www.khan.co.il).